“Expectations are reality.” Masha Slonim – on taxes, migration and other government plans

We are two weeks away from the parliamentary elections and it is becoming increasingly clear that the Conservatives are suffering a crushing defeat. The only question is how many seats in parliament they will manage to get. Alongside the obvious and understandable predictions, the official manifestos of the rival parties are peppered with loud promises of "curing the decaying health system (NHS)", sensible taxes for the public and claims that all plans have been scrutinized and credit and debit add up to the penny. Where the fantasies of politicians end and reality begins, in a new material "ZIMA" told Masha Slonim.

Masha Slonim
Masha Slonim

Even the Conservatives themselves, including members of the government, recognize that, as one minister put it, “the results will exceed their worst nightmares.” All the latest polls, and on Wednesday (June 19) simultaneously by three respected opinion research institutes, show that the election will result in the smallest Tory parliamentary faction this century.

And yet, the campaign continues and the parties continue to fight. Even if a party does not get a majority in the House of Commons and cannot form a government, it matters how many MPs from the party get through. The next largest party, and all indications now are that it will be the Conservatives, will be the official opposition.

Election manifestos were published last week. They are full of promises to improve lives and the economy, but whether their implementation matches reality is a matter for both fiscal organizations and rival parties.

We’ve told you before that the Conservatives are scaremongering that Labor’s economic plans will cost voters £2000 a year. Labor itself disputes the figure, while fiscal institutions and even civil servants who were commissioned by the Tories to analyze Labor’s election promises have questioned the methodology of the calculations. So far, the allegations have not done much to shake Labor’s chances of a landslide victory. Not only are they ahead of the Tories in the polls by more than 20%, but they could also secure a record high majority in Parliament.

And the desperate step the Conservatives took in sending voters a letter signed by Boris Johnson urging them to vote Tory is unlikely to help them any more. Quite the opposite, in fact.


The Conservatives’ promise to cut taxes and “cure” the decaying health care system (NHS) by cutting the bureaucratic segment of the system and employing doctors and nurses sounds appealing, but it’s more important now to look at how a Labor government is going to “cure” the British economy.

Traditionally, Labor has promised to pay for social spending by increasing the tax burden, insisting that tax rises will not affect “working people.” What “working people” are these days is not quite clear. They are laborers or simply those who are sweating to earn money, for example, to give private education to their children. Plans to impose value-added tax (VAT) on private school tuition fees for children will affect them. Future government will inevitably have to pay for it by raising taxes of one sort or another. This is what the Conservatives, in an attempt to stave off their imminent defeat, are constantly emphasizing to voters. It is on the fact that keeping Labor’s promises will mean raising taxes of one sort or another. However, Labor Party spokesmen call the Tory attacks “hysteria” and “desperation-driven nonsense” and, judging by the polls, voters are not really intimidated by the Tories’ warnings.

The Reform UK party has been stepping noticeably on the heels of the Tories in recent days. Since Nigel Farage took over, the party has been catching up with the Tories in the polls, and in one, commissioned by YouGov for The Times, even slightly outperformed the Conservatives.

Reform released its version of the manifesto the other day, calling it a “contract” with voters. The contract is full of all sorts of promises that exceed both what the Tories and even Labor are promising in terms of spending. The Institute for Fiscal Studies criticized Reform’s plans, concluding that the numbers in the “contract” don’t add up. However, despite the party’s breakthrough, analysts do not expect it to win a large number of seats in parliament, although it will clearly take votes away from the Conservatives.

All parties insist that their plans outlined in their manifestos are carefully crafted and credit-debit converges to the penny, but voters are clearly skeptical.

Voters on party plans

The Ipsos poll found that around 50% of voters are not confident that Labor will be able to afford everything it promises, although 37% have no doubt about it.

Apparently, voters are not very frightened by the fact that, according to more than half of the respondents, Labor, after coming to power and seeing that their plans exceed the budget, will increase borrowing, raise taxes or simply abandon some promises.

At the same time, only a quarter of voters are confident the Conservatives could deliver on their promises, while 67% don’t believe they could. More than half of respondents are not sure about the realism of the Liberal Democrat party’s plans.

Overall, 63% said Labour’s manifesto plans would have a positive impact on the country’s future, 55% thought the Liberal Democrats’ program was good for the country, and only 44% could say the same about the Tories.

The major parties diverge on many points. This is as much about the economy and “prescriptions for a healthier” NHS system as it is about the issue of immigration – legal and illegal. This topic is one of the central themes.


According to a recent YouGov poll conducted for Sky News, the majority of Britons believe that immigration has a negative impact on society. The poll reveals deep political distrust among the public: 52% of those polled believe that Labor is not telling the truth about what they think about immigration, while 49% say the same about the Conservatives.

Defense and war in Ukraine

Where the main rivals converge is in their attitudes toward the war in Ukraine and toward defense and security issues. This is generally the case in Britain: parties show solidarity in the event of danger from outside. From the very beginning, both the government and the opposition have been united in condemning Russian aggression and supporting Ukraine. And now, on the eve of the elections, the major parties are promising unconditional support for Ukraine and increased defense spending, bringing it to 2.5% of GDP per year in the near future.

As for Labor’s plans, they were announced by the shadow cabinet’s foreign and defense ministers, David Lammy and John Healey, during their joint visit to Kiev in May. They said they visited Ukraine to demonstrate a united front against Putin’s attempts to divide the West and his “imperial invasion.”

And – on the plans of the future Labor government: “The commitment of the next Labor government to Ukraine will be unchanged, and our top priority will be European security in the field of foreign policy and defense.”

Labor pledges to support Ukraine’s accession to NATO and believes Putin should be held criminally responsible for the criminal war in Ukraine.

Thus, there is no intrigue in how the main parties will vote in the new parliament on the issue of support for Ukraine. The important question remains, how many seats will the Tories get in the future parliament? Can they become a full-fledged opposition, without which there can be no healthy democracy?

Such a huge margin in Labor’s favor, which analysts are now predicting (256 MPs), carries a certain danger.

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